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Jefferson Park Free Will Baptist Church Holds Blood Drive; Collections to Benefit Harvey Victims

EAST ROCKINGHAM – As the wrath of Hurricane Harvey settles over southeast Texas leaving thousands of people displaced and in need of supplies, Jefferson Park Free Will Baptist Church in East Rockingham hosted its annual blood drive Thursday from 3 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

 With much success and support from their church family and the surrounding community, Jefferson Park members Jeff Barrington and his wife, Melinda, organize the local blood drive through the American Red Cross.

Holding blood drives for their church, located at 308 Forrest Street, twice a year (January and August) the Barringtons had no idea at the time of its inception that the donations collected Thursday would go to benefitting Harvey relief efforts.

Jefferson Park got its blood drive started in 2012 when their daughter organized a blood drive as her senior project at Richmond Senior High School. The project now continues into its fifth year. For Barrington, known locally as the “propane doctor,” it’s all about giving back to the community.

“I look forward to taking a day off of work to help in the community, Barrington said. “You never know when you may need a blood transfusion, and accidents happen all the time. And it’s good to know that there is something in place to help save your life.” 

The blood drive is not just aimed at helping those in the Richmond County community, but the American Red Cross will send blood collected from Thursday’s event to victims in need in the Texas Gulf area.

 “It’s only going to get worse down there and I’m glad we can be doing something to help,” Barrington says. “The blood collected today will help save lives.”

The blood drive was a major success that saw donors flowing in, some with appointments and others showing up in good spirits as walk-ins.


First time donor, Crystal Ward, 24 and mother of three, expressed her anxiety but was adamant in wanting to help.

“I really don’t like needles,” Ward said. “But I’m going to do it because there are so many people out there who need it. I want to help others.

“My mother came in to donate and she convinced me to come do the same. I just think that a kid may need a blood transfusion. I’m always thinking of the kids, “ Ward says.

The environment at Jefferson Park during the event was very friendly and welcoming. As people waited, gospel music played through the speakers and donors met new people from all walks of life. Barrington and his wife even encouraged some donors to come and attend their church services.

Even the Red Cross staff evoked the same good spirit. Lucy Busby, of Matthews, N.C., has worked with the American Red Cross for 21 years, and spoke of a love for the work that she does.

“You just meet some of the nicest people ever, and the opportunity to save lives is the most rewarding part of the job,” Busby said with a smile.

Barrington’s goal for the drive was to draw 25 to 30 pints of lood. He exceeded his quota and unfortunately, as it got late in the evening, he had to turn a few donors away, saying they, “were blessed and overwhelmed with donors.”

Jefferson Park will be hosting another blood drive in January, 2018. For dates and more information, contact Jeff Barrington at (910) 331-0818. 

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